More e-gates eyed for PH airports to lessen queues in 2019

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

December 14, 2018, 7:18 pm

QUICK ENTRY.  A passenger at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport uses an e-gate, which makes entry at the airport quick, taking only around 8-15 seconds. About 20-40 more e-gates will be added at the country's major airports in 2019 to lessen the queue of passengers. (Photo by Ma. Cristina Arayata)

MANILA -- The country's major airports will have addition electronic gates (e-gates) in 2019, primarily at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Grifton Medina, Immigration Port Operations Division chief, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

Currently, the country has 21 e-gates in major airports. Five each were installed in NAIA Terminals 1 and 3, three in NAIA Terminal 2, three each in Cebu and Clark, and two in Davao.

The government has allotted PHP340 million for these e-gates, which aims to speed up immigration transactions.

"We target either first or second quarter of 2019 to install additional e-gates. These will be primarily be installed at the NAIA. I want to have e-gates at the departure area," Medina said.

At present, the e-gates were all installed at the arrival area. These could be used by Filipino passport holders.

Medina said he eyes an additional 20-40 e-gates by next year, and place 20 each at the arrival and departure areas.

"We would need PHP300-600 million for the additional e-gates, since we have spent PHP328 million for the first 21," he added.

Medina highlighted the benefit of using the e-gates in lessening the long queues at immigration counters and faster processing. These, he said, are unmanned and would only take 8-15 seconds to process the entry of a passenger.

"It only takes 8-15 seconds, or 1/3 of the usual processing time (in an immigration counter)," he noted.

Medina said his office has created an infomercial, to better inform the passengers on how to use the e-gates. "Sometimes, the process takes longer than 15 seconds just because the passengers are not yet familiar with how to use an e-gate," he said.

A copy of the infomercial, he said, was sent to PTV. "We will place monitors (at the airport), and we have also coordinated with airlines to show the infomercial onboard once their aircraft arrives at NAIA," Medina said.

According to him, having the e-gates at the departure area would be basically for frequent milers or businessmen, as well as the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will conduct a pre-screening process for them, according to Medina.

"We're quite having a hard time dealing with the number of passengers at the departure area. That was why we also conduct a pre-screening process for the OFWs. For example, the OFW has lacking documents, we have staff who would assist him or her to complete the documents," he explained.

Medina said for this Christmas season alone, 90,000 to 100,000 passengers arrive at NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3 each day.

"With the e-gates, about 1,000 passengers can be accommodated in 30 minutes. So, this is really a great help," he added. (PNA)